Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Loses out on Patriots

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Loses out on Patriots

Article excerpt

Scratch another option off St. Louis' football wish list.

First, no expansion team. And now, no St. Louis Patriots.

The announcement Friday that James Busch Orthwein had sold the New England Patriots to Foxboro Stadium owner Robert Kraft was another blow to the St. Louis area's hopes of landing a National Football League team.

The Patriots sale price wasn't announced, but two sources told the Post-Dispatch that Kraft will pay Orthwein about $160 million, making it the most expensive franchise sale in NFL history. Orthwein paid about $110 million for the Patriots in the spring of 1992. Under prior arrangement with former Patriots minority owner Fran Murray, Orthwein must pay up to $10 million of the sale proceeds to Murray creditors.

"I'm disappointed obviously, but I'm not surprised," said St. Louis County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall. "The last week or weeks it was becoming increasingly obvious to me that the Patriots were not going to move."

Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. took the news philosophically.

"The old saying comes to mind: `Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,' " he said.

Comptroller Virvus Jones was more blunt.

"When we were going after the expansion team, Orthwein bought the Patriots, and that was supposed to be our insurance," Jones said. "I think some people took St. Louis to the dance, and then they left us there."

Because Orthwein is a St. Louisan and once headed the St. Louis expansion bid, it was thought he might sell the Patriots to the Gateway Football Partnership, which in turn would move the team here.

But that scenario never materialized because of lease problems on two fronts:

The threat of a lawsuit from Kraft, who has a signed lease stating the Patriots will play at Foxboro through the 2001 season.

The failure to resolve lease negotiations here on the domed stadium under construction in downtown St. …

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